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Toys R Us Is Back in Business … Again

Big news for those in the toy and toy licensing industry, as brand management company WHP Global announced Monday it has acquired the controlling interest in Tru Kids, the parent company of Toys R Us, Babies R Us and the Geoffrey the Giraffe brand.

Toys R Us has struggled to survive in a world beset by a rapid shift to e-commerce, and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017. The company was purchased by Ares Management, but was unable to emerge from bankruptcy on its own after an unsuccessful Christmas season that same year, and was pushed into liquidation. Parent company Tru Kids continued to push the brand forward with an attempt to open pop-up stores in shopping malls, and selling more toys online, first via a site powered by Target, and later through Amazon.

Now, however, WHP Global believes Toys R Us has gone through the crucible, and is fighting fit to emerge once more as a major retailer of toys and games.

“We’re in the brand business, and Toys R Us is the single most credible, trusted and beloved toy brand in the world,” said Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and chief executive officer of WHP. “We’re coming off a year where toys are just on fire. … and for Toys R Us, the U.S. is really a blank canvas.”

Schmidman is also the vice chair of the Tru Kids board of directors, and believes a leaner, meaner Toys R Us can capitalize on the growing success of the global toy industry.

“The restructurings took a big toll on the company,” Shmidman said. “And then Covid is, hopefully, once in a century. But now we’re getting past those two things. And the sky’s the limit.”

Toys R Us and Babies R Us together still have more than 900 branded stores in more than 25 countries, with a brick-and-mortar presence in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Middle East.

WHP says it’s plan is to open new stores in North America this year, well before the Christmas season, but these would not only consist of the large toy stores the company was known for in the past. Instead, Toys R Us will open a range of different types of outlets, ranging from bigger flagship stores, pop-ups, airport locations or mini stores inside other retailers’ shops. The company has not announced the number of outlets it hopes to open this year.

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